You believe only Baby Boomers think about retirement?
They may not call it the same thing, but Gen Xers (age 35-49) and Millennials (18-34) have begun to take planning seriously for what they prefer to call their post-work years.
And for good reason! According to some estimates they’ll have to save up to $9 trillion to be able to do all the things they say they want to do once they’ve stopped working for money. But before you go after this potentially lucrative market take a step back and give a lot of thought to how you plan to communicate with them.
Not only has technology changed the way younger generations communicate and connect with others, it has created a whole new vernacular and informality that is sometimes hard for older folk (and that’s you in their eyes if you’re over 49) to understand. In other words, one sure fire way to fail is to use Baby Boomer language when communicating with the under 49ers.
Groovy may mean something to your clients in their 50s and 60s, but to the younger generations it will probably only elicit a laugh. And never use retirement or planning in the same sentence if at all possible especially next to each other.
But before we get into why language is so important when it comes to marketing to Gen Xers and Millennials, let’s take a close look at the opportunity.
A Market Up For Grabs
The post-Baby Boomer generations know all to well when it comes to retirement planning they have an uphill battle compared to their parents.
The Defined Pension Plan is going the way of the landline telephone—a relic of the past slowly dying out—and careers at one company are as rare as rain in California. And to add insult to injury, the odds of Social Security lasting another 30 years in its current form is seemingly as low as the coverage of celebrities in supermarket tabloids. Just listen to what your potential clients have to say.
According to a survey by T Rowe Price, 60% of Millennials expect Social Security to go bankrupt before they retire, and 80% of Gen Xers are merely concerned that Social Security will not be around by the time they call it quits.
In addition, Millennials and Gen Xers don’t expect—or really want —to work at one company or organization for too terribly long. They are also not wedded to the idea that they’ll pursue one career.
In other words, job hopping—considered as embarrassing to Baby Boomers as finding out their ex-spouse is dating someone younger—and career change—as frightful to Baby Boomers as losing their hair and getting wrinkles—are widely accepted by under 49ers.
Younger Americans are also expected to live longer given medical advances and their health consciousness. Two prime examples: They smoke much less and eat much better than their parents and grandparents.
All those trends mean that retirement planning will require a lot more planning and focused action on their part. It will also require the assistance of a professional like you. That spells O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y.
All told anyone born in the mid-1960s or later will need to save at the bare minimum three- quarters of a million dollars, according to a number of reports. Needless-to-say, that’s a lot of dough for your average Joe and Jo. How big of an opportunity is it for you? The two generations combined population is 110 million.
And Millennials are already saving 8% of their earnings for retirement despite being saddled with a lot of student loan debt. On the other hand, Gen Xers are a bit behind the eight ball, saving only 7% of their income during what should be their peak earnings years, according to Forbes. Those figures compare to Baby Boomer’s 9% savings rate.
In any case, there’s business to be had for advisors ready to take up the challenge of learning the lingo and communicating ways of Gen Xers and Millennials.
Here’s a Tip – Keep It Simple
When talking about retirement with Gen Xers and Millennials it’s important to speak their language and use their communication tools. That means avoiding financial jargon and using plain language.
Speaking their language also means framing retirement as an opportunity for your younger generation clients and prospects to do something new (such as volunteer work) not simply indulge in leisure.
It’s also important to build trust. Gen Xers and Millennials tend to view institutions, including financial services providers, skeptically. They don’t want to be sold. They want to have a relationship with you. Sharing personal stories and keeping in touch (which technology makes easy) demonstrates that you do as well.
Many GenXers sand Millennials came of age when the Internet was already an integral part of our daily lives. They tend to do a lot of online research before buying anything, so be prepared for probing questions. They also like to engage with service providers on social media. So if you don’t have an online presence, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, get one and be active.
The bottom line: There’s a great opportunity for investment advisors willing to adapt to the ways of the younger generations of savers.